EMO Hannover 2023: A glimpse into the future of manufacturing

EMO Hannover 2023, the world’s premier trade fair for metalworking, has once again set the stage for innovation and excellence in the manufacturing industry with the show having taken place from September 18 to 23 2023. With an illustrious history, this biennial event stood up to its reputation as the global hub for innovations in the manufacturing sector. The 2023 edition showcased a plethora of cutting-edge technologies, emphasising sustainability, Industry 4.0, automation, and precision machining. EMO Hannover 2023 was a demonstration of the industry’s commitment to pushing boundaries while addressing the challenges of the 21st century.

Said EMO Commissioner General Carl Martin Welcker: “We saw everything here for the future of production: New solutions for automation, for networking within the factory and for sustainable production. When digitalisation finds its way into the factory, there is no end to the potential for new solutions and increased efficiency. This was impressively demonstrated by the exhibitors. And there was a positive mood at the event, despite the tense economic situation.”

Around 1 850 exhibitors attended, with roughly 70 per cent coming from 45 different countries, including China, Italy, Taiwan, Switzerland and Japan. Of the approximately 92 000 trade visitors, 54 per cent came from 130 countries. Here, the five largest visitor countries were Turkey, China, the Netherlands, Italy and Poland. Around one third of the trade visitors came from Asia. More than half of the visitors to the EMO were attending for the first time, the exhibition company claimed.

Sustainability takes centre stage
In an era where environmental consciousness is paramount, EMO Hannover 2023 shone a spotlight on sustainability. Manufacturers the world over are increasingly looking to reduce their environmental footprint, and the exhibition revealed a slew of eco-friendly solutions. From energy-efficient machining processes to the use of recyclable materials in machine construction, sustainability was at the forefront of many exhibits. The sector’s pledge to greener practices was distinctive, demonstrating the industry’s dedication to addressing the global climate crisis. Companies have even gone as far as adding features to their websites whereby you can calculate exactly how much carbon emissions are generated to produce the particular component you are purchasing.

The digital Revolution continues
Industry 4.0 and digitalisation continued their relentless march towards transforming manufacturing. The theme of the “smart factory” was obvious. Attendees witnessed the power of interconnected machines and data-driven decision-making, which are revolutionising production processes. The fusion of the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence was also showcased, with real-world applications that promise to enhance efficiency and flexibility. The digital age of manufacturing is well and truly upon us, and EMO Hannover 2023 painted a vivid picture of what the future looks like.

Connectivity, automation and robotics reign
Automation was another highlight of the show. Manufacturing industries are increasingly adopting robotics to optimise production and reduce labour costs as well as find solutions to the ongoing issue of the shortage of skilled workers. EMO Hannover 2023 featured the latest in robotic solutions, from welding and material handling to quality inspection. Hundreds of robots were on display, however, collaborative robots, known as “cobots,” took centre stage, demonstrating their capacity to work seamlessly alongside human counterparts on the factory floor. Automation is driving efficiency and transforming the way products are made. “Cobots are continuing to enjoy rising popularity in manufacturing, especially in smaller companies that are now struggling to find staff,” said Nils Tersteegen, Marketing Manager at Japanese vendor Fanuc.

The cobots come with tactile sensors that replicate the human ability to feel. These sensors enable them to adjust for variances in workpiece dimensions and navigate around obstructions within their workspace. When working alongside human operators, this feature promotes operation without the need for protective enclosures, or cells, for example.

With connectivity, the primary focus in this context lies on fostering open data exchange, utilising technologies like OPC UA, for instance. This forms the foundation for the Companion Specification OPC UA for Machine Tools within the overarching umati framework. A significant consideration is the ability to extract extensive data from digital controls without disrupting the ongoing processes. The accessibility of clear and unobstructed process data is pivotal for tasks such as process monitoring and quality management.

Machinery marvels
A mainstay of EMO Hannover is the unveiling of state-of-the-art machine tools, and 2023 was no exception. Precision machining and 3D printing innovations took the limelight, showcasing the industry’s commitment to pushing the envelope. Multi-axis CNC machines and hybrid manufacturing systems, combining subtractive and additive processes, have helped herald a new era in metalworking. These advancements reflect a sector that continues to set the bar higher and redefine what is achievable.

Global collaboration and knowledge-sharing
Collaboration and knowledge-sharing played an important role in the exhibition. Industry experts, thought leaders, and academics came together to discuss crucial topics such as sustainable manufacturing, cybersecurity in the era of Industry 4.0, and the evolving role of humans in manufacturing. These types of exchanges of ideas and expertise is instrumental in keeping the industry at the forefront of technological advancements, emphasising the collaborative spirit that fuels overall progress across our industries.

International unity
EMO Hannover 2023 was unmistakably international. With exhibitors hailing from over 40 countries and attendees from diverse corners of the globe, the event showcased the importance of a unified approach to addressing industry challenges. This global presence emphasised the need for collective solutions and ideas in the evolving manufacturing landscape.

EMO Hannover 2023 was a resounding success, underscoring its significance in shaping the future of metalworking. The exhibition showcased the industry’s resolute commitment to sustainability, digitalisation, automation, and precision machining. It fostered collaboration and international cooperation, reinforcing its position as a driving force in advancing the sector. EMO Hannover 2023 left attendees with a clear vision of the future of metalworking, a future filled with promise, innovation, and sustainable practices. As the industry continues to adapt to the ever-changing technological and environmental landscape, EMO Hannover continues to hold onto its reputation as a beacon of progress and innovation. It rejuvenated the spirit of metalworking, providing a glimpse into the future while at the same time honoured the industry’s rich history. For industry to be together and see one another face to face again was tangible – it’s little surprise that a key slogan used by the organisers was and is: “See you again!” EMO Hannover next takes place from 22 to 27 September 2025.

Comments from exhibitors and visitors
Below are comments made by the exhibitors and visitors to EMO Hannover 2023. Pictures of the South African visitors to EMO follow the comments.

Yamazaki Mazak has declared EMO 2023 in Hannover to be a roaring success with excellent visitor numbers and strong sales leads. Mazak took 19 machines and eleven automation systems to EMO 2023, including new entry-level vertical machining centers, 5-axis and multi-tasking machines, laser processing, specialist gear cutting machines and a new hybrid friction stir welding solution.

Alan Mucklow, managing director UK, Eire and National Distributors at Yamazaki Mazak, said EMO 2023 proved that European manufacturers are still willing to invest in new technology. “It was a highly successful show with our stand visitors holding up very well despite lower overall visitor numbers. We gave European machine users what they wanted, namely practical solutions to the manufacturing challenges they face every day, specifically maintaining productivity and profitability in the face of rising energy prices and continuing lack of skills.”

“As a result, we exceeded our targets and generated a very high number of prospects during the week which we believe is indicative of a superior quality of lead with serious intent to invest in new technologies.”

There were 7 father and son combinations from South Africa that attended the exhibition this year. These included Peter and Chris Killian from Hi-Tech Machine Tools. They are on the Mazak stand

EMO Hannover 2023 was hailed as a huge success by Hurco, who are also the agents for Roeders in the UK. Hurco said its sales staff, agents and distributors reported excellent footfall throughout the week. In total 31 new machine orders were booked on the stand in addition to some high-quality enquiries from new customers.

Michael Auer, managing director of Hurco GmbH, said: “EMO is a great opportunity to re-establish relationships with our sales agents. It also gives us the chance to educate and incentivise for the year ahead. It’s also a great platform to display the latest technology that Hurco is offering.”

Günter Szerenczés, member of the executive board of Israeli tool manufacturer Iscar, said: “EMO is once again a triumph, attracting a highly international audience from a wide range of industries. Visitors have been specifically asking about innovations.”

Jacob Harpaz – President and CEO of IMC Group with Damon Crawford – Metalworking News’ Online Editor

Dr. Jochen Kress, managing partner, Mapal Präzisionswerkzeuge Dr. Kress KG, Germany, said: “The main focus of the discussions we’ve been having is on customer-specific aspects. And the EMO is just the right platform for strengthening the cooperation between customers and suppliers, I think.”

Dr. Matthias Klein, CSO of the Emag Group added: “We have seen an overwhelming level of interest in the innovative solutions and machines of the Emag Group. In particular our solutions presented for machining electric vehicle powertrain components met with great interest. Overall, we are more than satisfied with the response from the market.”

Stephan Nell, CEO of the United Grinding Group from Switzerland, noted: “The number of leads is currently at the same level as in 2019. Some machine contracts were also signed directly at the trade show booth.”

Dr. Hubert Ermer, managing director for products and markets at Dr. Johannes Heidenhain GmbH, Germany, summarised. “Digitalisation and automation are continuing to develop at a rapid pace. The overall aim is to ensure reliable manufacturing processes. This increases productivity while also reducing the carbon footprint. EMO has given us a platform to discuss the specific challenges of transformative manufacturing processes with our customers and to provide them with full support.”

Dr. Karsten Röttger, CEO at Ecoroll AG of Germany, said: “Many visitors became aware of us for the first time. They hadn’t even considered the possibilities of mechanical surface finishing. Our tools allow them to meet the increasing product quality requirements, but above all the higher demand for sustainable products.”

Around one fifth of the exhibitors were also at the event for the first time. Representing this group, Jörg Rommelfanger, head of ABB’s robotics division, Germany, said: “This year’s EMO provided the ideal platform for showcasing our latest technologies and solutions for the industry for the first time. These included a machine loading cell specially designed for the fast and automated removal of randomly arranged workpieces. There was tremendous interest, and the numerous conversations and demonstrations we conducted were fruitful and inspiring.”

EMO Hannover 2023, the world’s premier trade fair for metalworking, has once again set the stage for innovation and excellence in the manufacturing industry

Special areas were setup by the organisers and the Startup area was very popular

As usual there were some large components on display

All disciplines of machining were on display

Around 1 850 exhibitors attended, with roughly 70 per cent coming from 45 different countries

Tooling and software companies were well represented

A mainstay of EMO Hannover is the unveiling of state-of-the-art machine tools and new tooling

Of the approximately 92 000 trade visitors, 54 per cent came from 130 countries. Here, the five largest visitor countries were Turkey, China, the Netherlands, Italy and Poland

Automation solutions were very prevalent at EMO Hannover 2023

Virtually every machine manufacturing exhibitor had cobot solutions on display

It was not just about cobots though. Industrial robots were also on display

When someone wants to take a picture of you, you let them do it especially if he is Titan Gilroy of Titans of CNC: Academy

Johann Nel from Integral Machine Tools with Ashwin Maharaj of Toolpro

Deepak Maharaj of Toolpro with Vaughn Hanwith Horden of Spectrum Machine Tools Africa

The associations from Japan (JIMTOF 2024), India (IMTEX 2024), Spain (BIEHM 2024), Taiwan (TSM 2024 and TIMTOS 2025) and Italy (BIMU 2024) all had press conferences to announce their forthcoming exhibitions. Seen at the Japan Machine Tool Builders Association (JMTBA) presentation were, from right of the interpreter, Chairman of the JMTBA and Chairman of Fanuc Dr Yoshiharu Inaba, Mr Kazuo Yuhara, President of the JMTBA, Mr Katsutoshi Matsuura, Chairman of the JMTBA Trade Fair Committee and Chairman of Matsuura Machinery Corporation and Mr Yasuo Tsukuni, Executive Vice-President and CEO of Tokyo Big Sight Inc

Former South African Marco Errath who is now the Marketing Manager for Weingartner Maschinenbau in Austria

Martin Bieber of Reime Noris with Keith Opperman of Duncan Macdonald

Keith Opperman of Duncan Macdonald
“EMO Hannover 2023 attracted visitors from all over the world and showcased all the latest technical innovations and solutions. The fair focused on automation, digitalisation and new trends in the market.”

“Artificial intelligence (AI) solutions and 3D printing technologies are already being used successfully in various areas of the industry. An important area of application for AI solutions is production planning and control (PPC), and were demonstrated and in future this will naturally have unlimited business opportunities.”

“A positive aspect for EMO visitors was that they were issued with a full event ticket, which was also valid as a ticket for travel on local transport in Hannover area.”

Mario Botha and Mike Lee from Retecon

Brian and Gregg Dixon from Cliffsway Engineering

Anton Lachtnect from Retecon

Hi-Tech Machine Tools also represents OPEN MIND hyperMILL. Chris and Peter Killian of Hi-Tech Machine Tools are seen with Philipp Puruker and Claudio Jorio, both of OPEN MIND

The Iscar stand was very busy

For most of the exhibition the isles were difficult to negotiate

With its bright lighting, design and colours the Gühring stand stood out

Chris Kroeger of Retecon

Chad Lockwood of Loc-Line with Tim Gilbert of MTD Tech

Warrick Lowther and Raj Reddy, both of Somta Tools with OSG’s Tetsuya Mizoguchi – affectionately known as Charlie – one of the inventors of the ‘Green Tap’ on the OSG stand

Warrick Lowther – Somta Tools

“Again we were not surprised by the enormity of EMO Hannover 2023 and the amount of tooling and accessory manufacturers and suppliers that exhibited. You could find most of them in Halls 3, 4, 5 and to a degree in Hall 6.”

“From carbide inserts, carbide endmills, cutting tools, covering most metal cutting applications, HSS tooling and drills, workpieces and toolholders, everything you need in your machine shop was on display.”

“OSG were one of the few companies to launch something revolutionary – our new sustainable forming tap innovation “Green Tap”, which is going to be available next year and is going to have a remarkable impact on tapping applications.”

Hi-Tech Machine Tools also represents Blaser Swisslube. Chris and Peter Killian of Hi-Tech Machine Tools are seen with Alain Rebmann and Sven Aegerter, both of Blaser Swisslube

There was even one father and daughter combination from South Africa. Peet Buitendag of WD Hearn Machine Tools is seen with daughter Lucinda and wife Amelia

Peet Buitendag of WD Hearn Machine Tools

“EMO is always impressive and if you are attending for the first time it will amaze you.”

“EMO was smaller this year and you could see that there was a struggle to fill up all the halls with exhibitors.”

“Since 2011, when I visited EMO for the first time, I would always make sure I visited every EMO exhibition because the latest technologies get released at this show and I like to always be ahead of what is new and EMO this year did not disappoint. I did spend a lot of time in Hall 9 where the control manufacturers are located and exhibiting their products.”

“The Siemens stand was showing their latest and greatest Controller Sinumerik ONE with the digital TWIN. There are big opportunities to retrofit your existing Sinumerik 840D to the new Sinumerik ONE. There is a great future ahead with the new software, screens and operators’ panels. The operator interfaces are user friendly and it are definitely part of the new future.”

“The Fanuc stand was also impressive with lots of new technology available especially on machine monitoring and the robot handling. I think Fanuc are definitely world leaders in the robot sector.”

“We had customers with us and for them to view the products and companies that we represent, and the exhibition as a whole, was a real eye opener and education for them. I strongly recommend that you take customers with to view the latest technologies that are on offer at EMO.”

“I took my daughter along for the first time as she wants to study mechatronics next year. It opened her eyes on how big the industry is and the opportunities that are available for her in this field.”

“All our key suppliers were there, and we could setup meetings so that they could introduce us to the new products and then we could bring back this knowledge and impart it to our customers and sales force. Surprisingly some of our big suppliers were not present at EMO because I am told the price to exhibit was just too expensive.”

“One thing I observed is that the Industry 4.0 marketing was not so big as before and I think it never was such a great success. My personal opinion is that the developers made it too complicated and the customers did not want all their info to be hosted in the cloud. The clients want simple programmes that monitor cycle times and down time.”

“EMO 2013 was a benchmark of the EMO show when it was really huge. I’m now worried that the EMO is losing its superior status to other smaller machine tool shows like the Blech Expo and AMB because a lot of our suppliers are targeting the smaller shows as they feel it’s not worth going to EMO. At the previous EMO shows attendances were a lot higher. They were down this year and we noticed.”

Thomas Rapp of Johs Boss with Dave Taylor of Elliott & Small

Tertius Tolken of Southern Medical with Johan Neveling of WD Hearn Machine Tools

Marius Conradie of WD Hearn Machine Tools with Patrice Baume of Tornos

Marius Conradie of WD Hearn Machine Tools

“WD Hearn Machine Tools sent a party of three to EMO Hannover this year which included myself, Johan Neveling and Peet Buitendag. Two clients – Tertius Tolken and Sharidon Van Rensburg – also joined us.”

“Staying south of Hannover in the university town of Gottingen, we certainly experienced a bit more German hospitality. The German public rail transport system is always a highlight for me and is probably one of the biggest factors making the German economy run smoothly, a factor that could make the whole of the SADC region in Southern Africa function better if we put in a transport system like they have in Germany and Europe.”

“The show itself once again exceeded my expectations and attending it is undoubtedly worth the money and I definitely recommend it. The South African networking evening was also a great success and well worth the time to meet up with colleagues and friends over a few beers in the beer hall.”

“The European Machine Tool industry is positively open for business and I can see that they are hungry for new markets with lots of positive engagements.”

“The business trip was concluded with a day of sightseeing in Hamburg. Visiting the Maritime Museum was a highlight, before we flew back to South Africa.”

Peter and Chris Killian of Hi-Tech Machine Tools with Marius Heinemann-Gruder of H&V

Father and son Les and Ryan Coetzee, both of Boerboel Sheetmetal

Father and son Eugene and Jan Hugo of JH Manufacturing

Father and son Wilco and Willie Jones, both of Jones Masjiene with Titan Gilroy of Titans of CNC: Academy. Nobody won the arm wrestling in this one!

Under the banner of The Future of Business, EMO Hannover 2023 focused on strategies for staying competitive. “In addition to new business models, new markets, new sales channels, and creative solutions for sales financing, these also include intelligent design of the working environment,” said Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director of the EMO organizer VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association), Frankfurt am Main, Germany. For further details visit https://vdw.de/en/new-digital-work-opportunities-or-disenfranchisement

Connectivity, and how it develops in the future, will affect all areas of production including planning, process optimisation and quality assurance. The methods which machines use to communicate with each other are therefore key issues for manufacturers and customers alike. And that is why EMO Hannover 2023 featured a joint stand dedicated to this important topic for the entire industry. For further details visit https://vdw.de/en/future-of-connectivity-area-shows-how-machines-will-communicate-in-the-future

Jia Wo of Insize and Dave Taylor of Elliott & Small on the Insize stand

Joshua Lotter of Made In Workshop with Tim Gilbert of MTD Tech

Hi-Tech Machine Tools also represents 5th Axis. Peter and Chris Killian of Hi-Tech Machine Tools with Krishnaraj Bekal of 5th Axis

Taegutec’s stand was part of the IMC Group companies exhibiting

Below you can watch a few videos recapping each day of the EMO Hannover 2023 courtesy of the VDW.